BANGKOK – At least six people were killed in a landslide in an abandoned jade mine in northern Myanmar, official media reported on Saturday.
The accident took place on Thursday in a mine in the town of Hpakant in Kachin state, when a slag heap collapsed on people who were searching for jade in the rubble of the excavation, the official daily Global New Light of Myanmar reported.
The open mines near Hpakant are known for their frequent landslides, which have killed hundreds of people illegally scavenging the heaps for jade.
Myanmar is the biggest producer of jadeite, a valuable variety of jade, which is mainly mined from mountains of the Kachin state, where the army has been fighting with Kachin minority guerrillas.
Tens of thousands of people from all over the country come to search the mountains for pieces of jade left behind by the miners.
In a 2015 report, nonprofit Global Witness revealed that the jade miners work in dangerous conditions and are exploited by warlords, drug traffickers and officers of the military junta.
According to the NGO, the jade industry is worth $31 billion, or half of the GDP of Myanmar and most of the exports go to China.